Consider Topical Pain Medication
Over the counter gels, balms, creams, or patches are ideal for hand joints, which lie just below the skin. Regardless of how they are applied, most topical arthritis pain relievers fall into these categories:
- Salicylates, which have mild anti-inflammatory effects
- Counterirritants, which distract from pain
- Capsaicin products, which distract from pain and may have a role in blocking pain signals
- Cannabidiol products
- Lidocaine products, which work as local anesthetics
While topical products are generally safe, their ingredients can enter the bloodstream and produce side effects or interact with other medications. Its advisable to talk to a doctor or pharmacist before trying any new medication.
What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Hand
- The base of your thumb, where it meets your wrist
- One of the joints closest to your fingertips
- The middle joint of a finger
There’s no cure, but there are a lot of ways to protect your joints and feel better.
Without treatment, osteoarthritis gets worse over time. Itâs important to get a diagnosis and a treatment plan as soon as possible.
Exercise #: Table Bend
Place the pinky-side edge of your left hand on a table, with your thumb pointed up. Holding your thumb in the same position, bend the other four fingers inward until your hand makes an L shape. Hold it for a couple of seconds, and then straighten your fingers to move them back into the starting position. Repeat 10 times, and then do the same sequence on the right hand.
Part 8 of 9: Finger Lift
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Osteoarthritis Of The Hands
Get more information about the causes, symptoms and treatments of hand OA, which is very common and can be debilitating.
About half of all women and one-quarter of all men will experience the stiffness and pain of osteoarthritis of the hands by the time they are 85 years old. A degenerative disease that affects all the tissues of a joint, OA leads to the breakdown over time of the smooth, protective cartilage on the ends of bones, so bones rub together, causing pain. The 29 bones of your hands and wrists come together to form many small joints that can be affected by OA.
Managing Hand And Wrist Pain
Research shows it is effective for providing symptom relief for people with carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand because of a squeezed nerve in the wrist.
A study reported in 2017 in the journal Brain found people with carpal tunnel can experience improvements in pain and numbness using acupuncture. In addition, researchers suggested acupuncturewhen done correctlycan also offer long-term benefits and continued improvements in hand function.
These findings could hold promise for hand pain associated with arthritis.
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Occupational Therapy Eases Pain And Improves Function When Osteoarthritis Occurs In The Joint Connecting Thumb And Wrist
When it comes to arthritis, some joints seem to get all the attention. We talk about knees and hips an awful lot. Our knees and hips must work well for walking, and a third or more of adults over age 65 develop osteoarthritis in these joints, resulting in over a million joint replacements in the US each year.
But what about the first carpometacarpal joint that connects your thumb to your wrist? Thats surprisingly important, yet most people cant name it and only become aware of it once it becomes arthritic. Fortunately, research recently confirmed that a common therapy requiring no medication can effectively treat this type of arthritis.
Changes In Surrounding Joints
In patients with advanced thumb base arthritis, the neighboring joints may become more mobile than normal.
Thumb extension deformity. This patient has lost mobility at the base of the thumb due to arthritis. The next joint closer to the tip of the thumb has become more mobile than normal to make up for the arthritic joint. Normally, the thumb does not come to a right angle with the rest of the hand.
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Tips For Preventing Arthritis
There is no known cure for arthritis. In fact, most treatments for arthritis are aimed at early recognition and prevention. Genetics can increase your likelihood for developing arthritis, as can a strong family history of the disease. Women are also more prone to arthritis than men.
You may try to prevent arthritis and still develop the disease. However, you can take actions to reduce your risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight. This can help to fight off OA.
- Dont smoke, or quit smoking. This may reduce your chance of developing RA.
- Try to avoid injury when playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
- If your job requires a lot of pushing, pulling, or lifting of heavy objects, take precautions to avoid injury to your joints.
- If your job calls for a lot of typing, practice good posture. If necessary, get a special keyboard, wrist cushion, or pad.
Exercises To Relieve Arthritis
The following exercises increase blood flow to cartilage, bringing it the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and prevent further breakdown. Consult your healthcare provider before starting these exercises to make sure theyre appropriate for you.
If so, the exercises are easy to do and can ease your arthritis pain:
The stronger your muscles are, the more weight they will be able to handle. Like other types of exercise, hand exercises won’t “work” overnight. But they should with time and repetition.
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Can Arthritis Pain Be Controlled
There are many things you can do to help control your arthritis pain. The goals of these methods are to control pain by:
- learning new ways to reduce pain
- taking as few pain medicines as possible
- changing pain habits that disrupt your normal lifestyle
- increasing your physical and social activity so you can return to an active life as much as possible
The methods listed here will work differently for different people. So some methods may work for you but some may not. Some methods are things you can do for yourself. Others require help from your doctor or other health professionals. Talk to your doctor about these methods. With a little practice you will find the right ones for you.
Sip 4 Cups Of Green Tea A Day
In a study on mice, Case Western Reserve University researchers gave one group the equivalent of four cups of green tea a day and the other group the same amount of plain water. Then they gave all mice a substance to induce RA. The tea-drinking mice were far less likely to develop arthritis than the mice that drank water. Other research has found teas polyphenol antioxidants were anti-inflammatory, improved arthritis-related immune responses, and significantly reduced cartilage damage.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Hand/wrist
Rheumatoid arthritis of the hand is most common in the wrist and knuckles. Often the joints feel hot and look red. The disease is symmetric, thus what occurs in one hand usually occurs in the other.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand/Wrist
- Sudden inability to straighten or bend a finger
- Numbness and tingling in hand
- May hear a squeaky sound as they move their hands and fingers
- May feel a snap or locking sensation in the hand and fingers
- Deformity in which the middle finger joint becomes bent
- Deformity where the end of the finger is bent and the middle joint over extends
Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand/Wrist Treatment Options
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but medications are available that slow the progression of the disease. Optimal care involves a team approach among the patient, physicians, and therapists. The care of the rheumatoid patient requires not only a hand surgeon but also a hand therapist, rheumatologist, and the patientÃ¢s primary care physician. The rheumatologist is often the physician that monitors and decides the specific type of medicine that is felt to be the most effective for the patientÃ¢s stage in the disease process.
- social information if applicable
Video: Hand Exercises To Relieve Arthritis Pain
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind if you have arthritis pain.
Keeping your joints in a bent position is tempting because its comfortable, but your joints will feel more stiff and painful if you arent active.
Exercise keeps joint fluid moving and creates space between the joints, causing them to be less irritated, said Alyssa Schroeder, a Marshfield Clinic physical therapist.
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Exercise #: Finger Lift
Place your left hand flat on a table, palm down. Starting with your thumb, lift each finger slowly off the tableone at a time. Hold each finger for a second or two, and then lower it. Do the same exercise with every finger of the left hand. After youre done with the left hand, repeat the entire sequence on the right hand.
Part 9 of 9: Wrist Stretch
What Can I Do To Decrease Hand Arthritis Symptoms
Osetoarthritis involves degeneration of a joint or joints due to excessive wear and tear. While OA can affect joints throughout the body, it commonly affects those in the hand. People with hand OA often report feeling generalized pain and morning stiffness in the joints. In regard to appearance, people with hand OA often have enlarged knuckles and excessive bone growth on the sides of the fingers.
Although hand arthritis symptoms may be quite severe, there are many simple remedies that can help one decrease pain and stiffness.
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Exercise #: Make An O
Start with your left hand pointing straight up. Then, curve all of your fingers inward until they touch. Your fingers should form the shape of an O. Hold this position for a few seconds. Then straighten your fingers again. Repeat this exercise a few times a day on each hand. You can do this stretch whenever your hands feel achy or stiff.
Part 7 of 9: Table Bend
What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis In The Hands
Joints affected by osteoarthritis will be swollen, stiff and painful and the hand can be weak. The amount of pain experienced by a patient can be very variable. It may be worse in cold weather or because of physical use of the hands, and, if severe, can occur at rest and disturb your sleep. For people with thumb base arthritis, activities which involve gripping and twisting and pinching actions can be difficult and painful, such as trying to undo a lid or use scissors. When the finger joints are affected, the hand can look deformed as shown in the photograph above. Stiffness makes it difficult to clench the hand into a fist and grip.
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What Causes Knuckle Pain
Each hand is composed of 27 different bones. These include the eight carpal bones at the bottom of the hand closest to the wrist, the five long metacarpal bones that make up the palm of the hand and connect to the carpal bones, and the remaining 14 phalange bones that make up the fingers.
The knuckles form at the joining of the metacarpal bones of the hand and the proximal phalangeal bones, or the first set of the three phalangeal bones that make up each finger. This area is referred to as the metacarpophalangeal joint.
The surfaces of the metacarpal and phalangeal bones that form the knuckles, or MCP joints, are lined with protective cartilage that provides cushioning and prevents friction between bones with movement. In arthritis, the cartilage breaks down over time, causing pain and increased difficulty moving the joints. In severe cases, the cartilage wears down so much that bone rubs directly against bone, causing increased pain, inflammation, and joint damage.
While arthritis, including osteoarthritis , rheumatoid arthritis , or psoriatic arthritis , is the most common cause of knuckle pain, other causes include hand and finger injury, scleroderma , and gout.
How Do I Relieve Arthritis Hand Pain
Arthritis hand pain typically can be relieved with the use of anti-inflammatory medications or pain relieving injections. There are also natural home remedies that could be effective for the temporary relief of arthritis hand pain, including heat, ice, and various herbal tea concoctions. When pain is severe and non-responsive to other types of treatment, a doctor might recommend wearing a splint on the hand. If all options for pain relief have failed, surgery may ultimately be necessary.
The anti-inflammatory drugs a doctor will usually recommend for the relief of arthritis hand pain include acetaminophen and ibuprofen. He may also prescribe stronger medicines containing these ingredients for people with severe arthritis pain. If these medicines fail to provide relief, the next option is typically injections. Most injections contain a long-lasting anesthetic that may provide relief for a few days. Injections containing steroids can provide pain relief for a few months, but doctors normally only use these for people with very severe arthritis pain.
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Soak And Exercise Hands In Warm Water
Many people with hand OA report that soaking their hands in warm water in the morning assists in decreasing the stiffness.
Begin by filling a clean sink or large basin with warm water.
If swelling is also noted, add approximately Â¼ cup of Epsom salt to the water to assist in decreasing the swelling.
While soaking the hands, gently perform range-of-motion exercises, such as opening and closing the fingers and spreading the fingers apart and then back together.
If you notice hand stiffness during a time when soaking is not an option, you can perform the same range-of motion exercises under running water.
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Use Heat Or Cold Safely
- Use either heat or cold for only 15-20 minutes at a time. Let your skin return to its normal temperature before using another application.
- Always put a towel between your skin and any type of pack.
- Always follow the advice of your physical therapist or doctor carefully when using these methods especially heat.
- Check your skin before and after using heat or cold.
- Use milder temperatures for a childâs skin because it is more sensitive than an adultâs skin.
- Do not use either heat or cold if you have open cuts or sores.
- Do not use cold packs if you have poor circulation or vasculitis.
- Do not use heat that is too hot or cold that is too cold. It is normal for your skin to appear pink after using a hot or cold pack. If an area appears dark red or spotty red and white there may be some skin damage. Blisters also appear if the pack was too hot or too cold.
- Do not use creams, heat rubs or lotions on your skin while using a hot or cold treatment.
- Do not make your bath or shower water too hot. This may cause dizziness or fatigue.
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Should You Get Help For Arthritis
Whatever type of arthritis a person has, a key factor in determining when to treat itand when to perform surgeryis how they tolerate pain, says Dr. Luo. There are people with mild arthritis who seek care early to avoid prolonged pain, while others dont remark on their pain, even after an X-ray shows extensive damage, he explains. Some have a lot of arthritis and never need treatment, while others have a lower level of arthritis and need surgery. Everyone is different, he says.
“I think the time to seek out a specialist for arthritis is when it is affecting your daily life, says Dr. Luo. If its a minor inconvenience, its not worth getting injections, braces, or surgery. But if you can no longer do the things you normally do, a specialist can help.
Treatments For Hand Osteoarthritis
Early treatment, including physical therapy, is the best way to minimize pain and maximize function in your hands. Patients who have hand osteoarthritis should always perform strengthening exercises, with or without additional medical treatment.
We recommend working with a physical therapist who specializes in hand therapy to strengthen the joints. Its like giving yourself a natural, invisible bandage that provides support, reduces pain, and increases function and range of motion in your hands
Additional treatment options include:
- Braces or orthotics to provide ongoing structured support, especially for the thumb
- Colchicine, an anti-inflammatory drug that may decrease inflammation and pain in osteoarthritic joints
- Corticosteroid injections or oral tablets to ease pain and swelling
- Methotrexate, an immunosuppressive drug that can reduce inflammation and joint damage, and is used to treat other rheumatic diseases
- Screening for diseases that increase risk for hand osteoarthritis, including iron overloaded states, such as in hemochromatosis, and Vitamin K deficiency
- Supplements containing chondroitin, a natural substance within your cartilage that can help improve function and reduce stiffness and pain
- Topical and oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to decrease pain and swelling
- Turmeric, a spice that contains curcumin, which can help decrease inflammation as a supplement or when added to food